Sunday, June 26, 2011

Zucchini Muffins Courtesy of Chez Pink (aka Big Ass Zucchini, Part II)

Read my previous post if you want to know about the BAZ. But in case you didn't see it...

So I didn't make enough soup, so recipe two was my Zucchini Bread...but I didn't want a bunch of zucchini loaves around my house (because I would eat them all), so I decided I would take them to muffins seemed a better idea. Bring on the cupcake papers...

Zucchini Quick Bread
Yields 6 demi loaves or 2 regular loaves or 30 muffins

Chef's Note: I rarely add raisins and because of my allergy I never add the nuts. I include them here in case you want to. You do need a food scale for this recipe!

4 Large egg, whole
1 Pound sugar, white
1 Cup oil, vegetable
1 Pound flour, pastry or all-purpose
1 Teaspoon salt, table
1 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
3 1/4 Teaspoons baking powder
14 1/2 Ounce(wt)s squash, zucchini grated
1 1/2 Teaspoon extract, vanilla

Optional Ingredients:
8 Ounce(wt)s raisins, seedless
4 Ounce(wt)s walnuts, English

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Plump raisins: Put raisins in a saucepan and cover completely with water. Boil water 10 to 20 seconds. Strain and spread raisins on parchment paper to dry and cool. Raisins should be added to mixture after they dry, otherwise they will sink to the bottom of the batter.

Beat the eggs. Add oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add alternately with the zucchini to the liquids starting and ending with the flour. Add nuts and raisins. Pour into greased pans and bake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Cool on racks.

If making muffins, line muffin pans with cupcake papers. Scoop batter into papers until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on racks.

Cool Zucchini Soup Courtesy of Chez Pink (aka Big Ass Zucchini, Part I)

My best friend, Chez Pink, has her first vegetable garden. Lucky for me, I get to benefit from her spoils. First up, world's (or Hapeville's) biggest zucchini ever!

After weighing in at 4 1/2 pounds, I knew I had to come up with multiple applications for this puppy! I decided to start with Some Cool Zucchini Soup...unfortunately, it only used about 1/6 of the zuke. I got this recipe from NPR about 3 years ago when I was driving into work, I believe on my last day at EarthLink (or near to it).

Cool Zucchini Soup
Yields 4 Servings

Chef's Note: This is a very satisfying version of the zucchini-mint soup I so enjoyed. I've never quite figured out how to add the flavor of the mint while still preserving the smooth texture. I'm still working on it. But using mint as a fine herbal garnish works well, as does using basil.

1/4 Cup oil, olive
2 Medium squash, zucchini coarsely chopped
1 Medium onion, yellow coarsely chopped
1 Large lemon zested
1 Cup stock, chicken, low-sodium or vegetable
1/2 Cup buttermilk, reduced-fat or less, to taste
1 to taste salt and pepper
4 Sprigs basil or mint, fresh finely chopped or julienned

Place the oil in a heavy pot. Add zucchini, onion, lemon zest and a little salt to help draw out the juices. Sweat them, covered, for 25 minutes. Check and stir frequently. Don't let the zucchini brown. Don't overcook it, either, or it will take on an unappetizing olive hue.

When the vegetables are quite tender but not mushy, add the stock. Simmer everything together for 5 minutes.

Using a blender set on high, puree the soup in batches and strain it through a fine strainer or sieve, discarding any fibrous solids. Whisk in buttermilk to taste and chill at least 4 hours.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Blondies for Camp Sunshine

This week was Camp Sunshine week at work. One of my employees, Jessie, is a long-time survivor of leukemia and attended Camp Sunshine as a kid. Ever since, she has been a camp counselor and goes back every summer for a week for the Keencheefoonee Road Race. Prior to her trip, she hosts a mini-bake sale at work and since my arrival 15 months ago, I started to contribute. The deal is, donate for a sweet treat, a little or a lot. It is always a big success, especially in a small company like ours.

Peanut Butter Blondies

1 1/2 Cup sugar, white
1/2 Cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
3 Large egg, whole
1/2 Cup butter, unsalted softened
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt, table
6 Ounce(wt)s chocolate chips, semisweet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, peanut butter, eggs, butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread into an ungreased 9x13 pan (metal or glass)**. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. The will be cracking and brown around the edges when done.

Cool, cut and serve (best when served slightly warm).

**If you don't know the ATK sling method, I swear by it.
Making a Foil Sling: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mocha Cupcakes from Ms. Paula Deen

So I have become the cupcake queen at work...I'll try anything once. But after one try, I have to change it and mold it and make it my own. So while I took inspiration from Ms. Deen, the Southern Belle herself, these have been edited from her original.

Now hers included a Kahlúa cream center. The problem was it was to be made with Chocolate Cool Whip - this is the holy grail of ingredients as it took me months to find. You would have thought that I was a 49er panning for gold or something. I found it after much searching and a day trip down south, but it wasn't worth it for the amount you end up putting in. Now maybe if you carve out some of the cupcake it might be worth it, but honestly these are so moist and delish - you don't need it.

Mocha Cupcakes
Yields 30 cupcakes

2 1/4 Cups flour, all-purpose
2 Cups sugar, white
3/4 Cups cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt, table
1 Cup oil, vegetable
1 Cup coffee, brewed cooled *espresso is preferred
3 Large egg, whole
8 Ounce(wt)s sour cream
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla
24 Each chocolate covered coffee beans for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add oil, coffee, and eggs. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla.

Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, for 16 to 18 minutes. Let them cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Coffee Buttercream Frosting for Mocha Cupcakes
1 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks
6 Cups sugar, powdered
3/8 Cup cooled coffee, brewed *espresso preferred
1/8 Cup, liqueur, Kahlúa

In a medium bowl, beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth, then beat in the coffee and Kahlúa.

Spread the Coffee Butter cream frosting evenly over the cupcakes and garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired.